“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” —Henry Ford
Imagine starting a business to make or sell a product or deliver a service. You put an inordinate amount of time identifying what you want to do and how you will do it. You are proud of you ‘product’. As a small group of committed people, you are all working together to grow and prosper. But as that happens, you hire more people. You teach them the ‘job’ and expect the same level of commitment as the original core group. However, not everyone follows you as you wish. Some don’t possess the same level of motivation. Some have questions about your processes. Some have questions about what you stand for. Suddenly, you feel overwhelmed with “people problems.”
Why is this happening?
There are many reasons but one is that we make the assumption that management and leadership are synonymous and they’re not. Management is about how to make processes and systems work well and leadership is about people – and influence. You can have the best processes and systems but if your people are not aligned to your mission, vision and values, the time you spend backtracking can be costly – financially and emotionally. Business has become less hierarchal and more collaborative making the skills of control less effective than the skills of influence. Leadership then, is about helping everyone working with you to engage effectively and respectfully – it’s about helping each and every person listen to one anothers’ perspectives, giving the permission to ask the hard questions with curiosity, and being open as the leader to being influenced by others.
So how do you do this?
First, by asking yourself, what is the foundation we have laid for success? What is our purpose and what are the values we hold dear and will not compromise on?
In 1943, Abraham Maslow’s theory of psychology focused on stages of human growth. Maslow believed that humans cannot get to self-actualization without first meeting their basic physiological needs, their need for safety, a sense of belonging, self esteem and confidence. This theory has been researched and tested over and over and is still widely believed. Look at it this way, a baby’s first job in life is to learn to trust. That is accomplished when their caregiver feeds them, cares for them and meets their needs. This creates a sense of belonging, which allows the infant or child begins to explore. That exploration is fueled further by motivation to achieve and achievement brings mastery, independence and a spirit of generosity to give back.
So ask yourself, how can knowing the science behind human behavior help you lay the foundation for your business success and build leadership among your people? While people are motivated by different things, we each need to feel safe to try, we need to feel like others care that we are part of the team, we need to be challenged and supported as we master our jobs and we need a strong foundation of values that bring together what we do and what we value.
Step One: Begin to think about your legacy. What are the values that will lay the foundation? In day-to-day interactions, what do those values look like and sound like? We have to go back to the basics before we can expect others to commit to engagement that will ultimately lead to success.